Donors Sought During Drive

Donors Sought During Drive The Icla da Silva Foundation has issued an appeal for Hispanics and Latinos to register as volunteer marrow and blood stem cell donors. The Icla da Silva Foundation, founded after the death of 13-year-old Icla da Silva who had leukemia, is the largest Hispanic bone marrow recruitment center in the United States.

“Each of us has the capacity within ourselves to give the gift of life,” said Airam da Silva, M.P.H., from Icla da Silva Foundation. “We are appealing to Hispanics and Latinos in the Camden County Area to give hope to other Hispanics suffering from leukemia, Lymphoma ad other life-threatening diseases.” Because the characteristics that determine whether a donor and patient match are inherited, the most likely match is with a sibling. However, 70 percent of patients do not have a family match. They must rely on volunteer marrow and blood cells donors. Although it is possible for a Hispanic or Latino to match a donor from any race or ethnic group, the most likely match is someone who shares the same heritage.

“Sara Hagerty a local organizer has joined the Foundation in its efforts and is hosting a drive August 26, 2006 at the Leap Academy School located at 549 Cooper Street, Camden, NJ from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm our goal is to sign as many Latino’s and Minority donors as possible and create awareness in the our community about this procedure and how we can help save patients who are suffering from life-threatening diseases curable with marrow and blood cells transplants” said Sara Hagerty.

To survive, these patients need blood-forming cells to help their bodies make new, healthy marrow. Blood-forming cells are immature cells that can develop into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. These cells usually live in bone marrow but are also released, in small numbers, into the bloodstream. Marrow and blood cells transplants are effective treatments for leukemia, lymphoma and other potentially fatal diseases.

The first step to becoming a donor is to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. Anyone who meets the health guidelines and is age 18 and 61 can join the Registry. After completing a brief health questionnaire, volunteer donors will donate some cheek cells from inside the month using a cotton-tipped swab, no blood sample is necessary to register, and sign a consent form. There is no cost to Hispanics, African Americans or Asian to register or to donate.

Recruiting over 12,000 Hispanic/Latino bone marrow donors each year at more than 450 drives from Massachusetts to Florida and Puerto Rico, the Foundation continues to urge more Hispanics and Minority groups to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.

About 6 million people are registered nationally as bone-marrow donors; about 400,000, or 7 percent, are Hispanics, according to the donor program.

Ideally, the percentage should be doubled to 14.1 percent to mirror the country's Hispanic population. The same could be said about the lack of African Americans who represent 8 percent of the registry and Asian registers representing at a low 6 percent.

Each year more than 35,000 children and adults in the United States are diagnosed with diseases for which a marrow or blood cell transplant could be a cure. Unfortunately, only 2,500 find a match and receive a bone marrow transplant. Of those, approximately 180 are Hispanics, a very small number due to the probability of finding a match within the 7 percent in the registry. Although a Hispanic patient can find a match who is from a different ethnic background, the chances of finding a match become higher if they look at the same ethnicity.

Kenneth Morales, a 9-year-old boy, is one of those in need of a compatible donor. No one is his family was a match and the search at the National Registry was not successful. The family reached our to the Icla da Silva Foundation for help and the organization reached out to the community.

To find out more about Icla da Silva Foundation, becoming a bone marrow or blood cells donor, and other ways to help, please call our toll free number 1-866-FDN-ICLA (1-866-336-4252), send us an e-mail Info@icla.org or visit our website www.icla.org. For more information about The Leap Academy School Drive contact Sara Hagerty at (856)275-9624.

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Author: Press Release

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